4/8/2014 11:49 P.M. ET
Ausmus still fine-tuning shortstop platoon
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Tuesday's series opener against the Dodgers was the third start of the season for shortstop Andrew Romine, tying him with Alex Gonzalez through six games. Just over a week into the season, it's an even platoon, and not a strict lefty-righty mix.
How it plays out from here is anyone's guess, including manager Brad Ausmus, who's still figuring out how the two late-spring acquisitions best fit.
"We didn't see these guys much in Spring Training," Ausmus said, "so it's a combination of trying to find out what we had in both these players and what their abilities are, and also making sure that Gonzo certainly isn't on his feet too much or playing too much, just from an age factor."
Gonzalez, 37, is in his 16th big league season, while Romine, 28, played in 74 MLB games over four years entering 2014.
Romine is a switch-hitter, but is considered much stronger batting from the left side. He abandoned switch-hitting and become exclusively a left-handed hitter for a stretch last year with the Angels, but he resumed hitting right-handed after it didn't make an appreciable difference for his offense.
Davis atop Tigers lineup for Interleague Play
LOS ANGELES -- Six months ago, former Tigers manager Jim Leyland tried to give his lineup a jolt by pulling Austin Jackson out of the leadoff spot, moving him down in the order and moving everyone else up a spot. On Tuesday, new manager Brad Ausmus did the reverse, moving Rajai Davis to the leadoff spot and everyone else down.
It was not an urgent effort to shake up the offense, but a reaction to Interleague Play.
"In the American League, obviously, the pitcher's not hitting, you can hit Rajai ninth and he becomes a catalyst at the top of the lineup [before it flips over]," Ausmus said. "Here, with the pitcher, it's a different story."
It goes back to the old Leyland line about the ninth hitter sometimes serving as a "second leadoff hitter," setting the table for the top third of the batting order when the lineup comes back around. Where Omar Infante filled that role for Leyland, the speedy Davis has fit that role for Ausmus, batting ninth in all three games he started last week at home.
Davis started just 14 games at the leadoff spot in Toronto last season. He hit .304 (21-for-69) there with three doubles, a triple, a home run, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts.
With Davis leading off, Ian Kinsler moved out of the spot for the first time this season. He batted second, with Torii Hunter third, Miguel Cabrera batting cleanup and Victor Martinez in the fifth spot. Martinez started at first base, while Cabrera shifted back to third base, his corner spot for the previous two seasons.
"I spoke to both Miggy and Victor about slotting down," Ausmus said. "They were both good with it. They both understood. Talked to Kinsler about it and Torii, all the guys who moved down, and they were all on board. No issue, and hopefully [Davis] works as a catalyst in this spot as well."
Miggy back at third base for opener in LA
LOS ANGELES -- A West Coast trip puts Miguel Cabrera on the opposite coast from his Miami home. Tuesday's series opener, however, was a homecoming for Cabrera. He was back at third base, his old spot from the previous two seasons, and the spot he has considered his natural position for years.
He spent the past two years trying to prove he could still handle the hot corner before the Prince Fielder trade opened first base back up. He's not trying to prove anything like that this week.
"We'll see," he said before the game.
The return to third base was manager Brad Ausmus' leadoff effort to fit Victor Martinez into his lineup during Interleague Play without the designated hitter available.
Cabrera was an early arrival Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, where he took ground balls at third during early infield practice. With unseasonably hot, dry weather in Los Angeles, the expectation was for a fast infield, faster than what he might face in Detroit.
Ausmus did not commit to a plan for Wednesday's game, saying he wanted to wait until he knew the opposing starter. Ausmus said over the weekend that he planned on using Martinez at catcher for one of the games this series.
Reed investigation not expected to distract club
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Brad Ausmus said he does not expect the investigation of reliever Evan Reed for an alleged sexual assault to become a distraction for the team.
"It certainly has an effect, in the sense that there's questions that I have to answer about it," Ausmus said. "And I've been on teams where there's been off-field issues. Once the bell rings, once the first pitch is thrown, it's all business. I think baseball players and athletes in general are very good when they step between the lines of separating the game from everything else surrounding the game.
"There are times when it may distract an individual. But I think as a group, I don't think it's generally as much of a distraction as it's often portrayed."
Asked if it would impact how he'll use Reed in games, Ausmus said, "I don't plan on changing anything at this point."
• Austin Jackson's second-inning home run Tuesday extended the Tigers' home run streak to six straight games, their third such streak to open a season since 1914. They had similar streaks in 1958 and 2004.
• Manager Brad Ausmus will use Thursday's off-day to give Justin Verlander an extra day of rest before his weekend start against the Padres. Rick Porcello will start Friday's series opener in San Diego, followed by Verlander and Max Scherzer.
• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who was the hitting coach when Ausmus played in Los Angeles at the end of his career, is one of a few skippers Ausmus has talked with since getting his first managerial job.
"We've stayed in touch since I played here," Ausmus said. "We'd often have dinner together or exchange barbs in texts. He's one of the best people I've met in the game, and I consider him a good friend."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.